Wednesday, February 19, 2014

SIAC episode 2 summary

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As expected, Ka Yeung and his father reconciled but of course only after the father has lectured his wayward son first, which the son wisely accepted meekly.  The father is completely won over when the son presented him with a pair of newfangled reading glasses, now the world is much clearer to the old man, all the more clearer to see the happy smile on his most favorite son's face, absent for so long. Naturally, the father pressures Ka Yeung to helm the family business.  Hau Yee though competent is but a woman therefore should be a stay-at- home wife mother, and not be outside doing a man’s work; Ka Hin though the first born is weak and indecisive; Ka Sheng the youngest poor health aside is preoccupied with the lowly stage opera; and that leaves Ka Yeung, who is his father's favorite child because the latter sees in Ka Yeung his young self.

A full moon night. A mysterious scene of Hau Yee stealthily leaving her room late at night for a rendezvous in a ramshackle hut out in the boonies.  The next day her disappearance belatedly discovered by her family caused much concern to her family.  Search groups immediately search high and low, far and near for her.  Then a totally different scene on Ka Seng writhing out of sorts lying on his bed with the maid sponging his face. What’s the matter with him – breaking out in cold sweat from illness or from some inner fear?  

Finally after much shouting and banging on the hand held gongs, it falls onto Bing Bing to finally find Hau Yee’s body inside the very rendezvous hut. BB's shrill scream brought Ka Yeung running to the hut.  He sees BB standing at the door in shock and in tears. Filled with foreboding he looks across the room and sees what had so terrified BB - a lifeless Hau Yee propped up against the wall, her eyes closed and trails of dried blood obscenely marked their flow from the corners of her eyes down her bloodless face, a bloodied nose and some black stuff smudged on the right side of her mouth. Instant shock momentarily keeps Ka Yeung rooted on the spot but collecting himself he quickly rushes over to her, calls her and checks the pulse on her neck; she’s dead. He sees the unfolded letter on the floor beside her, picks that up and reads it.  It’s her husband’s divorce letter to her. And then in come Ka Hin, alone. (odd? How did he come by this place so quickly?  Did he hear BB’s scream too? Where are the other people?)

Meanwhile, the others including the 2nd uncle and his wife wait impatiently at home for news of Hau Yee's whereabouts. When finally, shocked and numbed, the bad news bearing trio of Ka Hin, Kwok Leung (nephew) and the butler return, none of them can bring themselves to outright break the bad news of Hau Yee Ha's death to the parents.  Indeed action speaks louder than words when behind the trio, Ka Yeung had the workers carried in the stretcher with the covered up Hau Yee’s body into the room. The moment of truth – 2nd uncle peels the cloth cover away from the body hidden underneath it. Overcome with shock and disbelief at having their worst fear realized, Mr. Poon faints followed by Mrs. Poon and lastly by Ka Seng. While the family members fussed over the fainted trio, a brief shot showing the sad look on Cin Gan's face. (Bing Bing’s older brother)

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Ka Hin and Ka Yeung gathered in Mr. Poon’s study room to make sense of Hau Yee’s untimely death. Turn out Ka Hin has known about the divorce letter all along as he was the one who actually handed Hau Yee the very letter a month ago but per her wish has kept it secret from his father.  Of course with hindsight, going down the guilt trip, maybe he should have informed his father after all?  Ka Hin describes the circumstances on how he came to be Hau Hee’s husband’s delivery mailman to Hau Hee. Ka Yeung dismisses the idea of Hau Yee killing herself judging from her letters sent to him within that 5 year period. Ka Hin drops a bomb that totally devastated Ka Yeung; he says that since Hau Yee always worked so hard for the family business she had no time to think about personal stuff at all until Ka Yeung came home, now she could turn over the control reins of the business to him and die with a clear conscience.  Ka Yeung reels from hearing that – his homecoming precipitated his beloved older sister’s suicide? Could it be that - like the Chinese saying though he did not kill her it is because of him she died?  Hindsight – was that why she kept pressing him to come home?  Could it be? Could it be? Ka Yeung goes through her pile of letters to him, and suddenly he has this vision of Hau Yee standing before him. He asks her the very important question: Did you urge me to return home so that when I’m home you could do that stupid thing? Was it? But she looks at him serenely, smiles a little, but she vanishes without uttering a word - she's but a figment of his imagination.  And so Ka Yeung continue to wallow in self-guilt berating himself for being so stupid – he should not have come back; if he didn’t, Hau Yee wouldn’t have died.

2nd Uncle uses money to buy the workers’ (BB, BB’s brother (Cin Gan) and Chor Gau (Matt)) silence over the truth of Hau Yee’s death. They are to say that Hau Yee died of illness as news of suicide would tarnish the family’s reputation. Headstrong BB refuses to but her job so threatened she has no choice but to keep her mouth shut. She goes back inside the workshop and when confronted by her co-workers about Hau Yee’s death, not wanting to lie she deflects their questions with 2nd Uncle says and Uncle says that remarks. Totally emotional spent, she finally broke down and sobbed.

Ka Hin and Ka Yeung have a heart to heart talk while mourning Hau Yee. One should not speak ill of the dead but Ka Hin says even before Hau Yee's dead body he would still reprimand Hau Yee to die over her pride from public shame of a divorce.  In a difference inside 2nd uncle’s house, Kwok Leong drowns his sorrow in wine.  2nd Uncle scolds him for being weak. Here's the perfect opportunity to seize power of the family business now that Hau Yee's death has thrown the factory into turmoil.    

In their factory living quarters, the female workers burn netherworld paper money to appease Hau Yee’s ghost should she bear grudges against them in death. The next day 2nd Uncle and Kwok Leong gathered the factory workers in front of the factory; they want to test the waters in their quest to grab power to helm the factory.  So, 2nd Uncle purposely issues a new rule to have the workers complete their orders within three days instead of four days as is the rule.  The new 3-day rule riled up the workers and united tin solidarity hey oppose that new rule.  As the foreman, Kwok Leong tries to pull rank but with the workers solidly behind Bik Wan, he is forced to back down especially when Ka Hin happens on them and supports the workers.  Pretending to be the peacemaker, 2nd Uncle says he will see to the situation with the supplier of that (bogus) order.

Besides their failed attempt to seize power in the factory, back home 2nd Aunt outright snatches power from Ka Hin’s wife,  Yim Tou, when she arbitrarily hires a group of monks overriding Yim Tou’s hire of the monks to do the Buddhist ceremony.  Yim Tou later complaints to her husband, but Ka Hin is not in the mood to be empathetic to her feeling nor be sympathetic to her concern that their standing in the family would be eroded by the others. 

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The viewers understand now why the special close up on Cin Gan, apparently he had been carrying a torch for Hau Yee.  Though she is now dead he still wants to keep his promise to her that he would buy her her favorite local cakes whenever she so desired. BB chides him for his sentiment. Ka Sheng is locked in his fear ever since he saw Hau Yee’s corpse.  Ka Yeung, the doctor, to the rescue. First he calmed down his distraught younger and after injecting him with a sedative, he goes over to his distraught to comfort her.  He assures her that Ka Seng will get well once his mental state stabilizes.

In this scene: she snoops; he snoops; both BB and KY snoop separately for clues to Hau Yee’s death. Ka Yeung snoops inside Hau Yee's bedroom. He accidentally knocks over a big vase and finds inside it a wrapped packet of opium paste. Gingerly touching the opium he gets some on his nails, blackening them; a flashback, he recalls Hau Yee’s clean nails. Meanwhile, BB sneaks inside a different room - where Hau Yee’s body is.  She cautiously approaches the body and as the daughter of a martial arts master she instantly notices a familiar bruise on Hau Yee’s wrist. Just as she is about to get a closer look, the door suddenly opens and in rush Ka Yeung, grabbing her hand to prevent her from touching Hau Yee.  A show of some dexterous frenzied hand combat moves.

Angry and suspicious, Ka Yeung asks BB why she is in the room? Unlike her demure and well-mannered character in the first episode, BB explodes in childish insolence bordering on rudeness and hostility towards Ka Yeung -  her personality and attitude a big departure and inconsistent from her previous display of maturity and decorum towards Hau Yee.  I must say I’m not impressed by this hostile and emotional BB at all.  I guess suffused with two intense conflicting emotions of sorrow and fury, her volatile emotions spilled over quite uncontrollably, causing her to lash out at anybody whom she deems as obstructing justice to her benefactress, and what's more, they are Hau Yee's own family members all for the sake of family name and reputation.  This loud and furious BB is definitely different from the soft spoken and demure BB in the 1st episode. Neither is 3rd young master taken by BB's insolence. He barks an order for BB to butt out the case, and she ever fearless thumbs her nose at him, that's how much she thinks of his order.  And then the lady storms out of the room. Insolent wrench! 

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Ka Yeung is alone inside the hut, and ever slowly the door opens, and who creeps in but the incorrigible BB.  Seeing her, Ka Yeung asks her a simple of question of why she is here, bristling like a porcupine, she reacts defensively and insolently telling him in no uncertain terms that she does not have to answer to him.  Re-watching this scene again confirms my first reaction to BB's inconsistent personality.  I’m honestly disconcerted by this new BB so different from the 1st episode.  Had she been playacting before Hau Yee, or just that Ka Yeung brings out the defensive side of her? Maybe it is the sense of righteousness in the face of injustice that brings out the tenacious and ferocious bulldog in her?

Ka Yeung in a more conciliatory tone asks her why she thinks Hau Yee could not have committed suicide because of what she had overhead, and she obligingly tells him of the heated argument that she overhead between Hau Yee and her husband inside the latter's office three months ago.  

2 comments:

  1. It's interesting to know that KY and BB immediately came to the conclusion that HY death is not a committed suicide.
    They should have dragged HY death a bit longer, let KY griff/suffer a bit more and then slowly discover that HY is not natural (suicide). Seems that the production is hasting a bit ......

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    1. I disagree with dragging out HY's death and KY's mourning period. If not for shock and guilt, KY would have instantly seen through HY's homicide crudely disguised as suicide, that's why he has this wallowing-in-guilt scene, which I think is enough to depict his state of mind -- to prolong his grieving further adds nothing to the story. In fact, I would find those scenes redundant and draggy. Understand this is a man hardened by 5 years of countless violent life and death situations, and has seen all manners of death. In other words, this is not a man easily fazed by life's curve balls randomly thrown at him - that plus his medical training had him instinctively seen right through the ruse.

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